When Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas returns to Australia for the 2019/20 wave season, she’ll be sporting a different outfit.
She’ll be decked out with new rides and activities like the SkyPad, a simulated trampoline ride, new waterslides and much more.
If you’ve cruised aboard Voyager of the Seas and think you’ve done it all before, think again.
Royal Caribbean is not the only cruise line which is investing big bucks into face lifting vessels, and giving them a ‘wow’ factor.
From premium companies like Azamara Club Cruises, to high end lines like Regent Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises, the lines are updating staterooms with plush new beds and carpets, rolling out slick public spaces, not only creating new restaurants and menus and offering guests more facilities and activities.
Cruise Passenger also found that sailing on refurbished vessels can save you up to 40 per cent, especially if the line has just recently rolled out a new ship.
For example, you can sail on one of Celebrity Cruises’ older ships, as many guests are vying to try out the new technologically advanced Celebrity Edge.
Here’s what we can expect to see in the coming months.
Under Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified modernisation program, about 10 ships have been earmarked to be upgraded over the next four years. The program will focus on three main areas – pool deck and attractions, bars and nightlife and dining venues with great seafood, Mexican and Italian eateries.
Similar to sister ship, Mariner of the Seas which recently underwent a US$120 million makeover, Voyager will be fitted out with new additions including the Sky Pad, the Perfect Storm waterslides, a FlowRider, a new Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, The Bamboo Room, Laser Tag, Escape Room and new restaurants like Jamie’s Italian.
The 5,492-passenger Oasis of the Seas which was launched in 2009 and was once the largest ship at sea, is also due for a major facelift this year. Highlights of the refreshed additions will include the Aqua Theatre, the Perfect Storm waterslides, Ultimate Abyss, Boardwalk, Central Park, two FlowRider surf simulators, a carousel, ice-skating rink, outdoor movie screen and a Laser Tag course.
The line has set aside US$100 million to transform all four, Regatta-class ships which began with Oceania Insignia. This will be followed by Sirena which comes out of dry dock this month, Regatta in September and Nautica in June 2020.
Public areas will be modernised with contemporary touches including the signature Upper Hall atrium. Public areas will also get updated décor and new furnishings. Staterooms will become more open and airy and come equipped with USB charging ports, new light fixtures.
Oceania Cruises will be installing 8,000 light fixtures across all four ships including a stunning crystal chandelier in the Grand Dining Room.
The line calls its US$500 million makeover budget, Celebrity Revolution, which is a modernisation, not a makeover. With the launch of the new Celebrity Edge which has innovative designs, never seen before in the industry, the cruise line pledged it would be modernising the rest of its ships to the same standard as their new flagship. The new staterooms will have beds with cashmere mattresses and Bluetooth facilities.
Food offerings on the ships include a gastropub concept for craft beer lovers, and all ships that have the Qsine restaurant, will be able to experience Le Petit Chef, an animated chef, projected onto your table and onto your plate to show you how each dish is prepared. The Celebrity Flora, the line’s expedition ship which only sails around the Galapagos Islands will get updates to her décor and interior. The Celebrity Eclipse, which is the next to go under the knife, will undergo her multi-million-dollar makeover before her homeporting season in Melbourne 2020.
The Solstice will be modernised in 2021. While the Eclipse and Solstice will not have the revolutionary Magic Carpet platform and the three-storey indoor space called the Eden, passengers can expect a new sanctuary called The Retreat and a contemporary and sophisticated look across its upgraded staterooms, bars, restaurants and lounges. Earlier this year, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Equinox had a major overhaul with new cabins, a redesigned main dining room with a lighter, airy décor, a new Retreat Lounge and Retreat Sundeck for suite passengers and a redesigned spa.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Under a US$400 million program called Norwegian Edge, NCL has upgraded older ships in its fleet from 2017. This year, Norwegian Sky was given a major facelift in February with upgraded food and beverage venues, all staterooms and nearly all public areas. The sophisticated Pinnacle Lounge and Sushi Bar were added. Other new additions include a new Italian restaurant, La Cucina, new bars including Bliss Ultra Lounge, Sugarcane Mojita Bar and Spinnaker Lounge and a Starbucks.
The 4000-passenger Norwegian Joy came out of dry dock in Singapore after a US$50 million makeover. She has been westernised as she heads to Alaska for her inaugural season after spending more than a year in China. Joy’s two-level go-kart track has been widened, her former huge casino has given way to more entertainment, restaurant and bar venues including Lobos Cantina Mexican restaurant. The atrium café has been replaced with a Starbucks and the Korean barbeque venue called Sakura & Hibiscus has been turned into a Teppanyaki found on other NCL ships.
Its two ocean going ships, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity recently underwent major refurbishment. The line kicked off with a makeover of Crystal Symphony in late 2017 with the addition of 36 sophisticated, butler-serviced Seabreeze penthouses and Seabreeze penthouse suites accommodation on deck 10, redesigned lounge and entertainment venues and new interactive technological amenities.
Crystal Serenity was next in line when she had an extensive facelift and redesign last year along similar lines as sister-ship, Symphony. Serenity’s main dining room has been renamed Waterside serving international classic and modern cuisine with open seating. There is now a new Marketplace eatery offering an open-kitchen concept with dishes made to order. In the evening, it transforms into the Brazilian-style barbeque venue called Churrascaria.
There’s also an Asian-inspired dining venue called Silk with a noodle bar and serves wok-fried dishes to steamed dumplings. The Silk Road & Sushi Bar has been rebranded Umi Uma and continues to serve Japanese – Peruvian specialities of master chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The nightspot Stardust Club has a new dance floor, new bar finishes and refreshed décor. All suites and public areas have new HD flat-panel TVs.
When Royal Caribbean bought a 66.7 per cent stake in Silversea, it also announced Project Invictus, a multi-million enhancement of Silversea’s luxury fleet. The roll out began with Silver Muse two years ago, then Silver Whisper and Silver Wind in late December last year, followed by Silver Shadow.
The wide-ranging enhancements will invigorate the ships public areas with a fresh décor and carpets, suites will be refreshed, bathrooms will be revitalised with polished granite surfaces, the main restaurant will undergo a full upgrade while La Dame, the sophisticated dining space will have new curtains and a polished floor.
The casino, conference room and card rooms will be refreshed with new curtains and chairs. Following the successful introduction of Zagara Spa on Silver Muse, the wellness centre will be upgraded and become even more luxurious with new equipment and furniture across the fleet. Even the background music will be enhanced with modern renditions of timeless melodies.
Azamara Club Cruises
The 690-passenger Azamara Pursuit went into wet dock last year to be completely transformed. She is the first addition to the two-ship fleet since Azamara launched 10 years ago. The bow-to-stern makeover overturned Pursuit’s public areas and made them more modern and elegant.
New additions included an enticing new pool deck, two specialty restaurants including a steakhouse and an Italian, two spectacular spa suites with large soaking tubs and unobstructed ocean views. There is also a Den on deck 5 decorated in dark wood and light carpeting with numerous bookshelves plus a large bar making it a hot spot for passengers to gather and lounge around at night and during the day.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.